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George Cartwright

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  • Years Active: 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Composer/saxophonist/improviser George Cartwright is best known for his work with the group Curlew. Cartwright was born and raised in Mississippi. In the 1970s he studied at Karl Berger's Creative Music Studio in upstate New York, with such artists as Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, and Oliver Lake. He moved to Manhattan and became involved in the "punk jazz" movement in the late '70s with Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, and the members of Curlew. He improvised with artists like John Zorn, Charles K. Noyes, Polly Bradfield, and George Lewis. In the early '80s, Cartwright recorded Bright Bank Elewhale, an LP of improvised duets, with clarinetist Michael Lytle. He recorded two LPs with the improvising collective Meltable Snaps It, whose revolving personnel included Lytle, Christian Marclay, David Moss, and Tom Cora.

After the mid-'80s, Cartwright focused his efforts on Curlew. The band released five albums: Curlew, North America, Live in Berlin, Bee, and A Beautiful Western Saddle. Curlew also released a live video, The Hardwood. Cartwright has performed a music/text piece in collaboration with writer Anne Elias. Cartwright's first solo album, Dot, takes him from the collaborative sound and style of a band to a more personally focused effort. Subsequent efforts include 2000's The Memphis Years.